The name of this post might have grabbed your attention, but instead of salacious details about the more intimate parts of my life, I'll be talking about something else entirely. After all, there are all sorts of love affairs. The one I'll be talking a little bit about today has everything to do with February being Love of Reading Month.
You see, the longest love affair I've ever had is an ongoing one, and my husband knows all about it. Yes-- my longest love affair has been with books.
I think I must've been born loving them, although no one can be certain. My grandmother and mother were great readers, so it stands to reason that I inherited this from them. Naturally my mother kept many of my baby things, among them my favorite cloth books and Little Golden Books. I can remember looking at these artifacts when I was a teenager and being rather surprised. I was used to seeing babies chewing on everything and had seen more than my share of slobbered- and chewed-on books. But mine weren't.
In fact, they were almost pristine. No cracked spines. No rips. No torn pages. No dirt. And definitely not a toothmark in sight. I asked Mom about the state of my favorite baby books. "Did you take my books away if I showed any signs of chewing on them?" I asked her. "No," she said. "You never made a move to put one of them in your mouth. Mostly you pretended to read them, or you were handing them to me to read them to you."
You're probably wondering what the photo to the right has to do with anything. Mice don't wear clothes. They don't sit in big comfy chairs, and they certainly don't read. I agree with you. They don't. But this tiny piece of art represents the beginning of my longest love affair.
I have about a dozen of these little figures. They're called Wee Forest Folk, and each one I've purchased represents a very strong and very cherished memory. The one to the right speaks to me of my very earliest memories. Of being held in my mother's lap as she read me story after story. I was tiny. (Or as tiny as a baby who was born 25 inches long can be.)
My very next memory was when I was old enough to sit on the floor by my mother's big blood red Naugahyde chair. I remember looking up at her. She was bathed in soft white light from the floor lamp by her chair, and she was reading a thick storybook for grownups. She looked more than a bit angelic to me, come to think of it, but what I remember most was the look of sublime pleasure on her face. And that book was what was making her so happy.
And if reading could make my mommy so happy, I wanted to be able to read so I could be that happy, too. That's when I began to pester her to teach me how to read. Poor woman! But she never once looked irritated or became short-tempered with me. Instead she began to teach me the alphabet.
Thus began my longest love affair, a love affair that will be with me to the end of my days. All because I was a little human sponge sitting on my mother's lap, soaking up all the stories she told me. A little sponge who wanted to draw out every single drop of happiness from books. Just like my mother did.
I'm still a sponge, and I still love draining every single drop of happiness from the books I read.
Thank you, Mom.